Thursday, February 21, 2008

www.itwofs.com

If you haven't heard about http://www.itwofs.com site as yet, do it now; it is a growing collection of 'copy cats' in the Indian music industry. It is updated by one Karthik; so new tunes are continually under scrutiny. You'll be surprised by the songs which are lifted from around the world. Check it out now. And you thought Pritam was a wonderful composer. Pritam is a sham for all the fame he gets.

The clips are in Real format, so you'll need to have Real Player to listen to them. Be ready to hang your head in shame.

Friday, February 8, 2008

AAA Part 4

Continued from AAA 3

  • Most buildings usually have two doors at an entrance - with a buffer zone - to stop the outside weather from infuencing the conditions indoor. So you will have to open two doors.
  • Almost all areas, 99%, are accessible by the physically challenged. That means all stairs can be by-passed by lifts indoors and ramps outdoors. That means you can take the lift to any floor of the building. This also implies that you can take a roller bag or a huge box on a carrier anywhere, just rolling it along.
  • In any restroom(toilets) in a commercial building, you will find in the vicinity of the sink a liquid soap dispenser and a paper-roll/air drier. You are expected to wash your hands with soap and dry your hands with the paper that you roll out of the paper dispenser.
  • In an apartment/house, in the bathroom, you will not find an open tap. The only outlets of water are the sink and usually the bathtub tap and the shower right above it. That means there is no proper place to keep a bucket and fill water; so filling a mug is not that easy because that bathtub tap is far from the potty. Paper is the only option. One of my friends from Blore was describing how he connected a pipe to the sink and used that. I get sick even imagining that. If you haven't used paper before, you got to do something about it.
  • The amount of paper they use is phenomenal. Paper is also used as mini towels, in fast food chains and restaurants. Also for cleaning around the house. That is why the per-capita consumption of paper is so high for USA.
  • Fast food chains are as common as tea shops for us. Almost every street corner has one.
  • I have noticed that all of them do not prepare the meals behind closed environments -you can, to some extent see your meal being prepared. Probably to let the workers know that customers are always looking - maybe this leads them to be work faster and makes sure they don't add 'un'edible stuff in the meals.
  • All buildings have centralised air conditioning; that means heating as well. So in summer you feel cold, in winter you feel warm. That's a major area of energy usage.
  • Americans like really weird tastes(at least that's my impression). Cinnamon buns have too much cinnamon in them, Dr. Pepper, which is a very very popular drink, tastes like cough syrup(it really does, I'm not joking), pop(e.g. Coke, Pepsi) have flavours like cherry.
  • Tea is a popular drink, not hot, but as Ice Tea and Lemon Tea.
  • Gas for cooking and indoor heating purposes is delivered via underground pipelines. Same with water.
  • My relative told me that most don't build their own houses - they just move into a house already built by an agency or an existing one. I don't know whether you can't build your own house or if it is legally better to get it built by a construction company. But there are all sort of rules to be followed in construction, fire safety rules to be adhered to, so it makes sense to just move into a house instead of taking the pain of building your own.
  • I don't know how far this is true, but in posh areas, you need to get permission from authorities to keep pets, so that they know the pet has sufficient space and you are sane enough to treat it well.
  • There seem to be medicines and pills for each and every ailment -right from depression to kicking the smoking habit to weight reduction.
  • The ads on TV are really good - almost all the tricks in the textbook are used - cartoons, comedy, direct speech, truth telling, interviews, cute animals, cute kids... I was really impressed with the pharmaceutical ads - like those for heartburn or some allergies - they have a story running in the background while the voiceover continues talking about the pill, it's side effects, who should not take it, so on. But all say - ask your doctor. Its also obvious that all the effects of a pill must be revealed in the ad - i.e. the ad shouldn't mislead anyone.
  • The Superbowl(sort of all-America American football finals) is a major event with the highest viewership of the year. Ads are created specially for this even - search on YouTube for 'Superbowl ads'. A thirty second slot sold for around $3 million for this Superbowl, held on Feb 3.
  • An undergrad classroom is pretty much like as though they don't care if the prof even cares about them - they laugh loudly, make jokes, pull the prof's leg, pretty much being themselves. The profs don't seem to mind too.
  • How it works is, since the students pay money for the credits they take, they are sort of superior, and they expect value for money.
  • I haven't exactly understood undergrad college, but you can take any course anywhere in the college - so history one semester, psychology the next - that is while applying for higher studies one of the minimum requisite clauses states "minimum xx credits" in whichever field you're applying.
  • People wear anything they want to to class - shorts, caps, t-shirts.
  • Dignity of labour exists here - there's nothing wrong in being a Spanish teacher or a History teacher.
  • Spanish is the a de-facto second language, with signs and labels including Spanish.
  • In any University, the de-facto second language is easily Telugu.

  • School, job and college are just a mixed set - you can finish them in any order you like. School, then college, or job, or both.
  • Many undergrads work part-time to offset their tuition fees, I guess they are on their own after school, their decide their own life.
  • Similarly, children, engagement and marriage are another mixed bag - it seems you can have children, then get engaged and then married - or the other possibility.
  • It is pretty difficult to understand a common American's language(accent) - I have asked a Subway 'Sandwich Artist'(the person behind the counter) to tell me the different kinds of meat they have around 3 times, and they say it so fast and with the accent I still don't know what they are.
  • It's the same the other way around - they have difficulty in understanding what you say. You have to be ready to say each word slowly, carefully, and spell it out if necessary.
  • At fast food chains you will be asked, "For here, or to go?" 'For here' means you want to eat in there itself, your meal will be presented on a plate; 'To go' means you want to take it home and eat it. 'To go' is cheaper by a few cents.
  • The thing that is really special about America is the bureaucracy - everyone does their job, they take their job seriously, work efficiently - getting a Social Security Number was so straight forward. No bribes, no lines, no hassles.
  • Another nice thing is the companies take customer service seriously - so the employees try to be at their best.
  • The common 'culture' is also nice - holding doors open for the people behind you, saying excuse me when you have to pass close by a person, saying sorry if you are suddenly on the same path, saying hello to start off a conversation - even with an employee across the counter - you just don't start off 'I want a drink' - you say - 'Hi, I'd like a drink, please' or 'Hi! How're you doing.. I'd like a drink, please'. You are on your best manners even if you don't mean it.
  • Americans drive on the right side of the road, drive left-hand-drive cars.
  • The floor we call Ground floor is the First floor. So the Second floor is the First floor for us.
  • Everyone follows the law - while driving, noone jumps red lights, no sudden overtaking, in fact, not many even use their horns.
  • Americans have ultimate faith in the law and justice. Not even the President is above law. Only if that were also the case for India.
More, coming soon.